Tag Archive | Letting Go

On subtraction and resistance

To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day. (Lao Tzu)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Adding things is easy.
Removing things is hard.

Removing things triggers resistance.”

“How can I overcome resistance?”

“One way is temporary removal. In being temporary, it lowers resistance. If at any point you discover you miss it, you bring it back. After a set period passes, you reflect on whether you really need it. Most likely, you’ll forget about it soon after you remove it.

Another way is hiding / archiving. You don’t remove it; you simply place it out of sight. The difference is subtle but powerful. This eliminates resistance because if at any point you want to bring it back, you can. Most likely, you never will.”

“So the second one is better?”

“What you’re building toward is removing things without needing any of the two. What you’re working on is non-attachment and letting go. You don’t want to eliminate resistance; you want to learn to overcome it at will.

You can think of it as a progression. You start with hiding / archiving, which is easiest, progress to temporary removal, then to removing things directly.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean by judgment?”

“Judgment is a kind of evaluation.

Reality is neutral. We view reality through a filter of meaning. Whenever we evaluate something as positive or negative, we project meaning on it.

Evaluation is interpretation.

Viewed in pragmatic terms, some interpretations are empowering, others disempowering. I call disempowering interpretations, judgment.”

“What is non-judgment?”

“Non-judgment is a practice.

It’s a self-awareness practicenoticing when you judge yourself and others. I call the process of directing attention to notice judgment, the lens of judgment. For me, using this lens was a revelation. I hadn’t realized how often I did it.

It’s also a self-love practice – lovingly breaking the unresourceful thought pattern by gently letting it go.”

On dealing with unresourceful states

In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.

Prime your state first. The biochemistry will help you proactively tell yourself an enabling story.

To change your state do something physical.

(Tim Ferris)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“When you’re in an unresourceful state, changing it becomes your absolute priority.”

“I’d rephrase it to:

When you’re in an unresourceful state, dealing with it becomes your absolute priority.

If you change state or distract yourself, you miss an opportunity to learn from it.

Stay with it for a while.
Explore it, with compassion and curiosity.
Converse with it on the page.
Then kiss it goodbye, 
and… let it go.”

On letting go

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I remember to let go?”

“Connect it with your breath.

Let go with every mindful breath.

Moment-to-moment Checklist

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I’m (re)learning to get in touch with my BodyMind and my emotions. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately. It’s challenging, after being disembodied for so long, but I’m making progress.”

“What does your practice look like?”

“The main practice is a moment-to-moment mental checklist I created for myself. This is part of a bigger practice which I call Loving Awareness. The checklist consists of four self-checks:

Breathing: How’s my breathing? Am I breathing through my nose or my mouth?
Posture: How’s my posture?
Expansiveness: Am I expansive or contracted?
Relaxation: What am I feeling? Where in my body am I feeling it? Where am I holding tension?

A beautiful idea I know from Dan Brulé’s book Just Breathe is the two fundamentals of Breathwork – the process of mastering your breathing: Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing.

He calls Breath Awareness ‘Being the breath’ – ‘The breath breathes you.’
He calls Conscious Breathing ‘Doing the breath’ – ‘You breathe the breath.’

I’d read a lot about breathing, and everyone spoke only about the latter. From Dan Brulé I learned the beautiful practice of just being with (and savoring) your breath, without trying to control it in any way.

Expansiveness refers to physical expansiveness – how much physical space I’m occupying –, and attentional expansiveness – how wide my field of awareness is. I noticed I have a tendency to collapse my field of awareness, especially when under the influence of unpleasant feelings. This check is meant to counter that.

Relaxation is essentially a body scan, with the scope of eliminating all tension. As I notice tension, I embrace it with Loving Acceptance and let it go.”

Learning Optimization

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Passing all the notes I take through the 80/20 filter [<link; medium read] was a really good idea.

Are you actually reading the 80 notes?

Not really. There’s too many notes, so I mostly go through the 20 ones.

“What if you eliminated the 80 entirely?”

What if some day I discover some gems among them?

For that to happen, you’d have to actually go through them, which you admitted you do not.

I may someday.

‘I may someday’ is a flimsy foundation to base your decisions on. That sounds more like FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) speaking.

My point is, saving all those 80 notes comes with an opportunity cost.

All that time you spend saving them.
All that time you spend rereading them (if you ever do) in the hope you may discover some gems among them.

All that time could be better spent saving more 20 notes.

Sounds so obvious now that you mentioned it.

The Universe of Possibility is hiding in plain sight my dear.


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Resetting?”

“By Resetting I mean returning to a baseline, to a set reference-point. 

In practical terms, that can mean returning to a balanced, more resourceful / receptive state.

Resetting is a tool.”

“Can you give some examples of how you use the tool?”

“Here’s a few:

Centering (Proactive/Reactive)

This can mean reconnecting with your BodyMind.
It can mean reconnecting with your Center, however you define it for yourself.”

“How do you define it for yourself?”

“I think of my Heart as my Center, and through it I access my Meta-Values [<link; short read], Love, Gratitude, Beauty, and Play, which have a powerful priming effect.

Equanimity (Reactive)

Recovering mental balance once lost, ideally in the moment. This can be done in various ways, depending on the circumstances.

One way is by focusing on what you can control.
What happened a few moments ago is the past, hence outside your control. What you can control is what you do this moment.

I like to perform this reset with a mantra:

Every moment is a fresh beginning. (T. S. Eliot)

Or, with a slightly different nuance:

Every end is a new beginning.

Another way is by focusing on Dignity.
Remembering your inherent worthiness, and everyone else’s.

A powerful mantra I use is:


Humility (Proactive/Reactive)

Bringing to mind the limits of your knowledge and understanding, and the limits of understanding itself.

For this, I use two beautiful mantras:

I know one thing: that I know nothing. (Socrates)


I don’t know.

Emptying your cup (Proactive/Reactive)

Letting go…

Letting go of assumptions.
Letting go of evaluations / judgments.
Letting go of desires and expectations.

Beautiful Models: Focused/Diffuse Thinking

To turn it on, learn to turn it off. (Josh Waitzkin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Focused/Diffuse Thinking?”

“Focused/Diffuse Thinking is a beautiful idea I know from Barbara Oakley’s wonderful book A Mind for Numbers about learning how to learn.   

Focused Thinking is a state of concentration, of deep focused attention.
Diffuse Thinking is a state of relaxation.

When people think of problem-solving, they usually tend to think only of the former. However, counterintuitively, the optimal approach requires both: thinking deeply about the problem, and letting it go. 

Focused/Diffuse Thinking is an oscillation between the two.

Taking distance from the problem leaves room for the subconscious mind to work on it in the background and make intuitive leaps.”

“So it’s a kind of priming.”


Not taking distance from the problem prevents the subconscious mind from doing its magic.

Moreover, Focused Thinking is energy intensive and cannot be sustained for long periods of time. Breaking away from the problem, conserves energy.

I’d go so far as to say the Focused/Diffuse oscillation is essential. In optimizing it you’re optimizing creative-efficiency and energy-efficiency at the same time.”

Turning obstacles upside down 2

Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. (Chuang Tzu)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I woke up in an unresourceful state again.”

“How does that make you feel?”



“It messes with my morning practice.”

“So it messes with an expectation for things to be in a certain way.”

“I guess it does.”

“What’s in your control?”

How I RESPOND to it.

“NEVER forget that.

What’s the best response?”

Inversion[<link; medium read].

The Obstacle is the Way.

“That’s the spirit.

Let go of expectations.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, that BECOMES your practice.

Embrace it. 
Give it your full attention.

Turn every obstacle into MEDITATION.

Every obstacle is ALL obstacles.

Every obstacle is a potential Evolution-Point.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, EVOLVE.

Is this an observation or evaluation?

The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence. (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“There are many facets to the Art of (Playful) Living. One of them is Observation.”

“You mean observing things in your environment?”

“That is one kind of Observation. I like to make a distinction between Inner and Outer Observation.

Outer Observation is focusing your attention outward, towards the Outer World.
Inner Observation is focusing your attention inward, towards the Inner World.

Both are important.

Inner Observation is about noticing your thoughts and thought-stories, feelings and sensations, impulses and behavioral patterns. It’s an essential component of Introspection.”


“We have a natural tendency to assign meaning to things. You notice something and, in a split second, your mind generates an interpretation about it. I call this process prereflexive-understanding. I like to metaphorically think of the output of this process as a ‘thought-story’.

Another way to think of it, which I know from Michael Gelb’s beautiful book The Art of Connection, is as an evaluation.

Noticing evaluations and letting go of negative ones is a very important Practice.

For a very long time, I was stuck in a recurring dysfunctional pattern. My mind would negatively evaluate something, which would trigger a feeling of guilt, with its associated unpleasant physical sensations.

We could think of this as a process, with the evaluation as the input and the unpleasant feeling as the output. You can manage this process in two ways: you can deal with the output, manage the unpleasant feelings once they have made their entrance, or you can deal with the input, ‘intercept’ the evaluation and circumvent the guilt-obstacle entirely. I lacked the means to deal with either.”

“What’s the Practice?”

“I’m constantly monitoring my mental world and asking myself:

Is this an observation or evaluation?

When I notice an evaluation that does not serve me, I gently let it go.

This is a question-tool. Using it for the first time, after reading Michael Gelb’s book, was eye-opening. I hadn’t realized how many negative evaluations I was making.”